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Graffiti on UNC property, naming activists, linked to Heirs to the Confederacy

The Unsung Founders Memorial was a subject of debate earlier this year, 2017, during the Silent Sam sit-in.

The Unsung Founders Memorial was a subject of debate earlier this year, 2017, during the Silent Sam sit-in.

Update 1:15 p.m.: Co-founder Lance Spivey said in a statement that the Heirs to the Confederacy did not approve the vandalism, an act which he said "goes against everything we stand for," the News and Observer reported Monday evening.

"If these acts of vandalism were in fact committed by any member(s) of Heirs, then the perpetrator(s) were acting on their own, in a renegade capacity and unsanctioned by the Board of Directors," the statement said. "I, and the Heirs to the Confederacy as a whole, will have no part in the damaging, desecration, or destruction of any historical monument, memorial, or marker, and actually support the protection of all such monuments, be they Confederate or otherwise."

Spivey also told the New York Times that he was looking into the vandalism Monday. Spivey said that two members of the Heirs to the Confederacy were on campus Saturday night, although he did not have information that suggests they committed the vandalism, the New York Times reported.

Nearly a week before March 16, when Spivey carried a camouflage-skin pistol on UNC's campus, he wrote a blog post regarding his views about the connection between Confederate monuments and freedom.

"I am willing to die for what I believe; I am more so ready to kill for it," Spivey wrote in the post.

Spivey also wrote that in order to preserve both freedom and Confederate monuments, supporters must fight back, "not with equal violence, but with excessive violence."

One of the two people who vandalized the monument commemorating slaves and people of color who helped build the University has been linked to a neo-Confederate group, according to UNC officials. 

A UNC Police officer noticed the Unsung Founders Memorial, erected in 2005, had "racist and other deplorable language" written with permanent marker at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The monument was also doused with urine, according to the police report. Through security footage, officials confirmed that one of the vandals is affiliated with the Heirs to the Confederacy group. 

An installation outside the Hanes Art Center was also vandalized later Sunday with racial slurs and was reported to campus police by a passing motorist. 

“UNC Police is conducting a thorough criminal investigation," said Randy Young, UNC Police spokesperson, in an email to The Daily Tar Heel. "Therefore, at this time we will not be releasing any details that could impede that investigation or subsequent prosecution, including, but not limited to, surveillance video footage, photos or the text of the graffiti."

He said UNC Police have two warrants for arrest out for individuals believed to be involved. The monument is surrounded by barricades again, and there's regular police presence in the area, Young said. 

The University’s Facilities Services cleaned the Unsung Founders Memorial by the time the University released a statement to the campus community Sunday evening. Details of the graffiti, including which installation outside Hanes Art Center was vandalized, were not disclosed. 

A lawyer representing prominent anti-Silent Sam activist Maya Little told her the graffiti included her name, as well as activist Lindsay Ayling’s name.

“I was told today by my lawyer that something in regards to my name was spray-painted on a monument," Little's tweet read. "UNC has not officially contacted me even though I am a Ph.D. student, nor told anything else to my lawyer. They didn't tell him what was written, nor have they told any of you.”

Little didn't return The Daily Tar Heel's request for comment by the time of publication. 

Ayling said she first learned about the vandalism from Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s statement Sunday evening. 

She said she later learned that the graffiti included her own name from Little’s lawyer and a UNC faculty member.

“They seemed to think that it sounded threatening,” Ayling said. “Today, the lawyer was able to get in touch with us again, and he said that what the racists' graffiti about me was, ‘F*ck Lindsay Ayling, f*ck her white supremacy.’”

As an outspoken activist against Silent Sam, Ayling said she thinks the graffiti was meant to devalue anti-racist activism on campus. 

“They’re trying to diminish the threat that white supremacy poses to our community by attempting to strip the term of any meaning,” Ayling said. “They’re mocking anti-racist activists and trying to deny that they’re racist, even while they’re in the process of desecrating a monument to slaves that built UNC’s campus.”

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The University is also reviewing a March 16 incident where a group, including members from Heirs to the Confederacy, came to UNC's campus with weapons. Co-founder of Heirs to the Confederacy, Lance Spivey, carried a pistol on his hip.

After the March 16 incident, Guskiewicz emphasized that weapons are not permitted on campus, and individuals found with weapons in the future will be arrested and issued a warning of trespass.